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Cranbury’s EDAC shines a spotlight on compiled data of residents

North Main Street in downtown Cranbury, home to several local businesses, on March 17.

The Economic Development Advisory Committee’s (EDAC) presentation before the Cranbury Township Committee has highlighted several attractions residents want to see with an updated Cranbury.

Those attractions are seen as more business development such as a bakery shop, retail as in an apparel or specialty food stores and a famers market or music venues within a business.

The EDAC is now in the second phase of the committee’s three-phased approach to formulating a strategy to revitalize economic growth in Cranbury, specifically for the downtown area.

The second phase is the define phase and the committee is set to complete that phase in December. EDAC members will use the rest of the year to define the committee’s next steps, which will include the feedback received from the township committee and residents.

Another briefing will then occur back at to the township committee to review and report initiatives the group will seek approval on.

Then, the deliver phase (third phase) will begin at the end of December and continue into 2021.

EDAC committee members briefed the township committee and residents on the the findings from the discovery phase (first phase) of the committee’s approach during a meeting on Sept. 28.

“We do want to acknowledge some of the concerns people have and let people know we are taking that very seriously. There was some cutback within some of the things we did and through verbal conversations about too much traffic, uncontrolled growth, and that nobody wants a Bordentown or Robbinsville Township here,” EDAC Chairman Darek Hahn said. “I think from the data we have nobody wants that, so those who have concerns this might alleviate some.”

Tamara Vostok shared the results of the perception survey when the EDAC reported the data it compiled through a perception survey from the first phase for residents, a business survey and conducted business roundtable, which is the first of a series of business roundtables that will take place.

Utilizing the township email list, close to 900 individuals received a perception survey; in its efforts, EDAC gathered more than 600 responses.

“Only 37% see Cranbury as a destination and 40% say it is a good place to visit. The numbers are not matching up. While people want to live here they are not asking their friends and family to visit,” Vostok said. “There feels like there is a lack of things to do, lack of business diversity and vacancies. That all comes through the numbers and open-ended responses.”

Looking at the data compiled by the EDAC for the two topics Vostok referenced: out of 614 responses, 8.1% strongly agree and 29.6% somewhat agree that downtown Cranbury is a destination; while 30.3% somewhat disagree, 21.5% neither agree or disagree and 10.4% strongly disagree.

For recommending Cranbury as a place to visit for family and friends in terms of activities and amusements, also out of 614 responses, 15.5% are very likely to recommend and 25.6% are somewhat likely; while 23.5% are neutral, 23.1% say unlikely and 12.4% said very unlikely, according to the EDAC.

“It is important to note that of the Cranbury residents who do come into downtown they are mostly dining in Cranbury or doing something outdoors,” Vostok said. “However, from the survey they are saying that they are not shopping in Cranbury. They are not doing their general errands in downtown.”

Data also spotlighted the most desired attractions and what types of restaurants and stores would have respondents spend more time downtown.

“Cranburyians are hungry and thirsty apparently. They want a bakery, coffee shop, casual dining and outdoor dining which was high on the list, a deli and quick service restaurants,” Vostok added. “In terms of retail, the residents would like a pub, book store, a truck store for everyday essentials, so they do not want to cross Route 130 for these items.”

When it comes to amenities making residents spend more time in Cranbury with 614 responses, 82.2% stated that they would like a farmers market, 59.6% music venues within businesses, 57.3% hiking and biking trails and 45.8% more public art exhibits, according to the EDAC.

The EDAC is now continuing work to have an initial three to five initiatives that the committee would look to complete in 8-12 months, if approved. Also, having another three to five initiatives completed in 12-36 months.

The plan for the committee will be to present a marketing plan in January of 2021, pending approval from the township committee later this year.

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